The ACM Guide to House Renovation

We are currently renovating a house we bought. It is a pretty extensive renovation – adding a second story to the house.  Because it is such an extensive renovation we have an architect, engineer and project manager involved. Here is how I see this ongoing process as a microcosm of the Adaptive Case Management vs. Business Process Management debate:

Step 1 – Getting the plans together and approved by our local council. Essentially this entails plans going back and forth between architect, engineer and finally the local council with lots of conversation and negotiation. This process finally ended with a set of approved plans for the renovation. There is no way this could have been modeled – for example our council is very picky about the type of roof you build, and of course, our original roof plans weren’t appropriate (this isn’t a written rule, just implicit knowledge – since most standard roofs have no issues – we had a specific design problem that required a non-standard roof solution). There is no way anyone involved in the original creation of the plan could have foreseen this, and it caused everything to go off in a new direction – with lots of negotiation and collaboration. So clearly this is an ACM (with the plan as central document, and the architect as the process owner), not BPM process.

Step 2 – planning the actual renovation work.  My project manger put together a pretty comprehensive plan (e.g. model) about how the work should proceed. It was modeled to the best of his ability using the architecture and engineering plans, along with his knowledge of building. I was hoping for BPM like smooth sailing – we would proceed according to the model and everything would fall into place as planned. Boy, was I wrong. The problem was that once the work started, it became clear that the existing structure didn’t exactly fit the existing plans – and there was no way to know until we actually got to work on the house. After about the first 24 hours the original model was almost useless – the facts in the field changed everything. We are now into a mode where we do some work according to plan, find a problem, negotiate and collaborate to find a solution, update the model (aka plan) and continue. Not exactly BPM like. My project manager explained that if we would have razed the existing house, it would have been much smoother sailing and the work would have adhered to the plan – or as I would say it would be more BPM-like.  It would have also been much more expensive.  I think this holds for the process world in general since most BPM process work isn’t about completely new processes, but rather about enhancements and automation of existing processes. So if you have an existing process that lends itself to modeling – then make sure that you start from scratch in defining the new replacement process. If you try and retrofit an existing process you will end up with an exceptional process – in the sense everything is an exception 🙂 – not a BPM process that follows a model.

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5 Responses to “The ACM Guide to House Renovation”

  1. Tweets that mention The ACM Guide to House Renovation | ActionBase Blog - Thoughts on Collaboration Process Management Unstructured Compliance and Audit -- Topsy.com Says:

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by ActionBase, ActionBase. ActionBase said: The ACM Guide to House Renovation – http://bit.ly/9TPGVw #BPM #acmjam […]

  2. Jim DeLong Says:

    I refer you to Atul Gawande’s “The Checklist Manifesto”. He describes the end of the Master Builder, and what replaces that role in modern day building/rennovation.

    That book also makes me wonder, could the lowly checklist be the highest level of abstraction in an ACM (or in a viable system model – assuming between you, the architect, engineer and finally the local council – form an autonomous system – google ‘viable system model’ to cure insomnia).

  3. ACM Links for 8-4-2009 « Thoughts on Collaborative Planning Says:

    […] Ukelson wrote “The ACM Guide to House Renovation” which is an excellent example of how real work requires flexibility that a pre-defined […]

  4. Links « Fujitsu Interstage Blog Says:

    […] Ukelson wrote “The ACM Guide to House Renovation” which is an excellent example of how real work requires flexibility that a pre-defined […]

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